Footballers team up with families to tackle childhood obesity

Footballers from AFC Wimbledon are supporting a project which helps families achieve their goals of making healthier choices about their diet and doing more exercise.

Merton Council and LiveWell Merton have teamed up with AFC Wimbledon Foundation to deliver the Family Change4Life programme which supports children to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

The first group of 12 families with children aged between five and 13 began the eight-week programme earlier this month. While children take part in a weekly exercise session, held at schools or in community centres, their parents attend classes about nutrition run by dieticians. During the final fortnight families will play sport together.

The Family Change4Life programme is part of Merton Council’s wider public health plans which prioritise reducing childhood obesity. Around 4,500 primary school children in Merton are estimated to be overweight or obese. One in five children starting school in Reception Year is overweight or obese; this rises to one in three pupils leaving primary school in Year 6.

If a child is overweight they are more likely to become obese in adulthood and are at increased risk of long term health conditions including diabetes, arthritis and breathing difficulties. They can also have low self-esteem and are more likely to have time off school, which means they can fall behind with their studies.

Londoners are being encouraged to have their say on childhood obesity by completing the Great Weight Debate survey. The questionnaire from the Healthy London Partnership asks if people are aware of the extent of childhood obesity in London, factors they think contribute to childhood obesity and seeks their ideas on how children and families could lead healthier lives.

The Leader of Merton Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, said: “Footballers are important role models for their young fans and it is great to see AFC Wimbledon supporting the Family Change4Life programme.  This is helping families to become more active and enjoy more nutritious meals by getting children into the habit of making healthy choices from a young age.

“Childhood obesity is a growing issue in London and we are committed to tackling it through initiatives like the Family Change4Life programme. We are also encouraging as many Londoners as possible to join the conversation about childhood obesity by having their say in the Great Weight Debate survey.”

For more information about the Family Change4Life programme, visit LiveWell Merton’s website or contact LiveWell Merton by telephone 020 8973 3545 or email: